Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Beef Phở

I didn't know the proper pronunciation of this word was "pha" until just recently when I was watching The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. If the super chefs pronounced it this way, then it must be true right? Just to be sure, I wikipedia-ed it and yes, it's "pha".

Eating Phở is one of those things where you're like..its just noodles and broth. But then again, how can it be soooo good when it's only noodles and broth??? I thought you just threw a bunch of beef bones in a pot, fill it with water, add a little MSG and pray that great things happen to it. Just kidding, it's actually the spices that go in. Nothing special. It's exactly what you would find in a pumpkin pie plus a little cardamom, coriander, and star anise. Oh yea and some fish sauce makes it taste reeeeeal good.

 I was skeptical during the cooking process but when it was done after 3 hours of vicious boiling, I was in heaven. I was so excited that I stupidly called my sister and was like "Anna! I invented Phở!!!" and she's "yea..okay Annie, that's definitely going on my facebook".

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ferrero Rocher Cake

It's about time I put out another one of those cakes that I can be proud of. I spent a couple of hours designing the cake and sorta got a pretty good idea of what it's gonna be made of and what it's gonna look like. Although I had to make a few changes and add some more components, it did look pretty much the same as my drawing. I'm really happy with the texture of the cake but I think adding nutella to the frosting makes it a bit too sweet. Be aware!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

French Macarons

Ever since I started working at Thierry, I've been collecting their pastry recipes. They are truly different from the ones you find online and they turn out much better. When I made these macarons I didn't have the exact measurements of the ingredients, but what I did know was that you use the egg whites in 2 ways instead of one.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Seafood Paella

I bought a paella pan a couple months back and it's exciting to be using it for the first time. I had the most amazing black seafood paella, tinted with squid's ink, in Barcelona. I have yet to find those flavours again in my kitchen, but this will do for now.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Eggs over Potato Cakes

I saw this idea on the internet once and wanted to try it. My eggs turned out absolutely perfect -- which is surprising cause I cannot cook eggs for the life of me. I did what Alton Brown said to do: crack the eggs into a small bowl first, tilt the pan and add the egg into the pan. It will stay snuggled up into the corner and wouldn't spread. The problem is, the egg is gonna cook into a moon shape, so before the whites completely set, flatten the pan and drag out the egg whites with a spatula into a round shape.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Pumpkin Soup

I bought a pumpkin for Halloween but I left it un-carved cause I wanted to use it after. It's not a sugar pumpkin so I hesitated using it for the soup. I decided to roast it anyway to see how strong of a flavour it has and it was alright.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Caramel Apples From Scratch

As Halloween came and went, I saw a lot of caramel apple recipes floating around on the internet. Some I would say are...legit, and others...not so much. I'm probably offending some people when I say this but I just don't like the idea caramel apples made with those packaged caramel candies. Instead of a deep rich caramel flavour, they are more sugary and creamy.

I like the potent, almost burnt caramel flavour and I can't see myself eating anything else. The other thing is, have you ever noticed that the caramel candies never fully melt? Every tutorial I see on-line has clumps and clumps of caramel dripping off the apple and it is just unattractive. I like to make sure that my apples are perfectly cold before I dip them, and I always spin the apple over the pot it sets a little and most of the excess drips off.

I probably sound like a complete snob, but god I really like it when my food to looks perfect.

I'd prefer these apples to Halloween candy any day. Well, maybe with the exception of Twizzlers; I'm a sucker for those. Just the other day I realized that I'm actually not a fan of chocolate. It's kind of an odd discovery since I eat them all the time, but I think it's because I always have them lying around. I've mentioned before that I don't like chocolate ice cream, but I guess it's just chocolate in general that I don't like.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Butterscotch Caramels

Making caramels are much easier than you may think. All you need to do is gather your ingredients then dump them into a pot and wait until it reaches 250 degrees, the soft ball stage.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Chili Crab

Oh man...it has been raining in Vancouver for the past 2 weeks and I am depressed!
I think it's getting to a point where baking won't even save me :(

I lucked out with this weather for shooting this picture today. Normally it's way to dark and grey outside to give good lighting for the photos.

This dish was inspired by a chili crab dish I had in a Szechuan restaurant. That was more like a stew with some potatoes and taro and a lot of Szechuan peppercorn. I didn't wanna saturate this dish with more ingredients than necessary so I just stuck to the basics: ginger, onion, garlic and spices.

There are many ways you can break down a crab. Some chop right through the stomach to split it in half, and others steam it first before taking it apart. I personally like to take the shell off first, wash out all the guts before splitting it so I don't get any of it on the meat.

It's a bit difficult to take the shell off when it's alive. You just need to stick the knife in from the sides and pry it open.

 Rinse out the shell and put it aside. Split the rest of the crab into 6 pieces.


1 large onion (I used spring onions cause I ran out of regular onion)
Dried chili (to taste)
1 large piece of ginger (1/4 cup)
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup hot pepper paste
2 tbsp hot pepper and bean paste (optional)

If you are using fresh chilis, you can skip this step. But because mine was dried, I soaked it in 1/4 cup of hot water first. Then combine with the ginger, onion, and garlic in a blender and purée it into a paste.

Sauté the paste in 2 tbsps of oil until fragrant and some of the water has evaporated. 

Add the rest of the ingredients (more or less based on taste) and stir to combine.

 At this point I added a cup of water to the mixture to thin it out because the crab needs a little time to cook and I need that extra water in there to steam the crab.

Just a few pictures of the brands I used. The Korean hot pepper paste is really mild.

This is a Szechuan style hot pepper paste. It has bean paste inside and large pepper chunks. It's very salty and slightly tangy. 

Toss the crab around in the mixture to coat.

Set the shells on top and let it steam. I wouldn't want all the juices to go into the sauce. 

And after 20 minutes you are done!

I'm really sorry my measurements are so vague and most often people want exact amounts of what I put in. But I'm honestly a huge believer in tasting as you go. My mom never tastes when she cooks so the same dish would turn out good one week and horrible the next. Without tasting the food you never know what else needs to be in there. Sometimes I add a little sugar if it's too tangy. So try, and let me know what works for you!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Meat Lover's Pizza

Pizza for Thanks Giving anyone? okay, I was really lazy this year and decided to slack off on the dinner. My sister on the other hand, who usually eats out of a can for lunches and supper, decided to throw a gigantic dinner party and made a FEAST! I'm so happy for her...and myself because it means I will get a helping hand with Christmas dinner this year :)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Mint Chocolate Cake

Mint chocolate cake....still sounds like a combination that only a fraction of the population would enjoy. I personally love the combination of mint and chocolate but I can imagine some people going.."yuck" when I say it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Grapefruit, Pear, and Sweet Potato Juice

What seems to be such an odd combination turned out to be amazing. Ignoring the fact that I spilt the juice all over my white dress on the way to work, it was the perfect breakfast.

Avocado Smoothie

I've always had something against smoothies that were green. How can puréed spinach taste good? But after this avocado smoothie and a "green smoothie" from the book I just bought, I completely changed my opinion.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Chinese Mooncake

I look forward to Mid Autumn Festival every year because that's the time mooncakes go on sale in all Asian supermarkets. By "sale" I don't mean a clearance sale...They are deathly expensive but because of tradition, everyone has to buy them as gifts.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Green Apple and Celery Juice

I've been addicted to juices and smoothies lately so I went and bought a book. It's called Smoothies and Juices and there's 100 recipes in the book. There are four categories: fruit smoothies, veggie smoothies, dessert smoothies, and juices.

I was planning on a 7 days of juicing diet where I choose 3 recipes from the book as my breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I knew that was going to work even before I started the diet. The smoothies are usually ice cold so I can't exactly make them at work. I'd have to have my breakfast at 8 then wait till 5 for my next smoothie. So then I decided I would just make a smoothie whenever I get a chance.

The first I tried was a Green Apple and Celery Juice. It was the BEST thing ever. I drank the whole thing in seconds and pondered whether or not anything better tasting exists in this world. Or could it just be me being a freak and love the taste of all green things?

 The ingredients are real simple: 2 apples, 4 ribs celery and the juice of a quarter lemon. Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup then juice the apples and celery through a juicer. Trust me, it's the most refreshing thing ever!

Of course I came across some pretty gross recipes in there as well. Never attempt cucumber/carrot/celery/tomato juice. I don't know how that recipe even made it into that book. The tomato just makes it taste like cucumber juice turned sour. It was awful and I had to dump it.

I've tried quite a few recipes so far and some are extremely good. I will continue to post the winners as I try them.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel and Pecans

In my phone, there is a list of "Things To Make" . When I'm feeling adventurous, I'd scroll through and find something interesting to make. This cake was one of those, and surprisingly it didn't stay on the list very long before I decided to try it.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Caramel Carrot Muffins

This is a simplified version of the many carrot muffin recipes out there. I was asked to whip up something for my dad's lunch the next day. It was very last minute so I had to work with whatever I had on hand. As some of you may know, recipes for carrot muffins have the longest ingredient list ever. They ask for many different "moisturising" agents such as pumpkin purée, apple sauce, crushed pineapples...ect. I had none of that so I had to improvise. To bring some interesting flavours into the mix, I chose to caramelize my butter and sugar.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The "Enegizer" Juice

I started juicing last week and I'm really loving it. I've been reading up on it a lot lately and since there's an old juicer sitting in the back of my cabinet somewhere, why not.

My parents bought this juicer years ago, but you know how much kids loved their carrot juice...there was no chance. So then it was put away...long enough that I had forgotten we even had a juicer.

I saw some recipes floating on the internet but never thought much of it. It was not until the day we went to finish a business deal on a beverage franchise that it stuck with me. We were first offered ice creams while we were waiting for the inventory count. ME, being all health concious, asked if it was possible to have a drink instead. They agreed and I took my time going through their menu, eventually coming across this "freshly squeezed juices" section. They must have really hated me cause it took them 5 minutes to make the juice and 20 minutes to clean the juicer.

Anyways, I went home and got out my juicer that same night and started this habit or "trend".

There's nothing complicated about juicing. You put whatever you want in whatever amount you want into the juicer and its done in minutes. My favourite combination so far is apple, beets, celery, carrots, and ginger.

1 Lg Apple (Fuji)
2 med carrots
1 stalk celery
1 small beet or half a large one
1 nob of ginger

I know the picture above is kinda deceiving but I made 2 servings with that. There's really no science behind it so you can change up the amount however you want. I like having beets in mine cause without it the juice oxidises and turns brown. I brought it to class one day and I'm pretty sure I got some odd looks my way.